The Magical Natural Beauty of Plumbeous water redstart

Identification: Plumbeous water redstart (Phoenicurus fuliginosus) male bird is entirely bluish slaty with chestnut tail and rufous vent. However, the female is above-average dark grey-brown with two rows of white spots on the wing and a pale eye-ring. The base of the tail is white; the rectrices are partly white, tipped broadly, and edged with brown. Below is the mottled slate and white. The expanded white tail of the female exposes a brown triangle with the terminal end as its base. Males often breed in female-like plumage. The bird has a sharp ziet-ziet or a threatening kree, however, its song is a rapid jingle.
Plumbeous water redstart male and female.
Plumbeous water redstarts male and female.  Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Display: The bird flies almost vertically up in the air, some 5 or 6 meters and then swoops down in a wide spiral to its original position. Also described (if different from above), is a slow and fluttering flight with the tail fully spread out, and a slow flight with rapidly vibrating wings in a short parabola from rock to rock.
Call and Song: Plumbeous water redstart call-note consists of a sharp ziet, ziet; threat call, a sharp krreee. Therefore, the song of plumbeous water redstart is a sharp, creaky, and metallic jingle of about 2-2.5 seconds’ duration exactly like a cricket’s chirping and similarly rising pitch; uttered from a boulder or during display flight. Song period, mainly February to June (Proud) but May occasionally is heard in winter.
Breeding and Nesting: The breeding seasons are April to July. Double brooded. Normally, the nest is cup-shaped, of green moss, grass, rootlets, and a few dead leaves lined with rootlets, fibers, hair, or wool. The nest is usually placed on a ledge of rock, in a crevice or hole in stream banks, in the stonework of bridges, occasionally under the eaves of a streamside house, in hollows in trees or stumps-rarely even against the trunk of a tree up to four meters above the ground. The nest is seldom built more than 50 meters or so away from streams. Both sexes participate in building the nest. Breeds are mostly between 1800 and 2100 meters.
Habitats: The bird is solitary or in pairs. Confined to mountain streams, it flits from boulder to boulder, catching insects by making short sallies in the air or pursuing them with rapid steps over stones, sometimes hovering for an instant and snatching them from the surface of the water. When perched, the tail is continuously opened and shut rapidly with a scissors-like action and simultaneously wagged up and down. Very crepuscular, hunting late into the dusk till it was too dark to be seen but for the twinkling white in the female’s tail.
This twinkling produces the exact effect of water cascading over stones in a torrent, and even in good daylight, it often obliterates the bird against its background in an astonishing way. Maintains jealously guarded feeding territories in winter, demonstrating aggressiveness against intruders of its own kind while tolerating other species, e.g. White-capped Redstart forktails, etc. Cranes neck forward; tail fully fanned out and depressed, and utters a sharp, angry, prolonged krreee. If this warning is unheeded, attacks and chases intruders back to its own borders. It is very territorial in the breeding season, each pair staking out a stretch of river and assiduously keeping off interlopers. However, two pairs may be seen feeding on the same stretch of water, while nests are often placed within a short distance of one another. If so, this must be exceptional. The bird is not shy to humans, they can sit a few inches near humans if there is running water around.
Eggs and Incubation: Normally, the bird laid 3 to 6 eggs (usually 4), very pale gray-green with reddish-brown markings, usually forming a ring or cap at the large end. The average size of eggs is about 19.9 x 14.7 mm. The incubation by females alone, however, is undetermined.
Appearance: Both sexes tend to be similar. The juvenile bird is grey-brown with small whitish spots (buffish on the wing). Upper tail covers are white; tails are white except for the distal half of the central rectrices and the outer margins of the outermost rectrices, which are dark brown. Below, throat, breast, and flanks are grey-brown densely spotted with whitish; belly white with dusky fringes; under the surface of the tail, white except for the brown tip. The juvenile bird molt is into brown female-like plumage. Males often breed in this brown dress and apparently do not acquire adult plumage until the second year. Incessantly wags tail up and down and opens it, scissor-like.
Range: Plumbeous water redstart is a common resident, subject to altitudinal movements. It ranges from the Himalayas, KPK, eastward through Arunachal Pradesh, then south through Nagaland, Manipur, and Meghalaya in the Khasi hills. However, the vertical distribution is uneven. It has been observed in Chitral, less commonly in Gilgit; 1200 to 3900 m from the Sutlej Valley to Simla. This bird is quite often seen during my visit to Malam Jabba at Abshar Point along with white-capped water redstart. Both species singing songs at the edge of water streams. 
The bird is mostly above 1800 m but down to 900 m in the Kulu Valley; up to 4300 m in Garhwal, to 3200-locally to 3600 min in western Nepal, and 4400 m in Manangbhot, but in eastern Nepal, not over 3000 m and down to c. 1500 m in Kathmandu Valley. Sikkim and Bhutan do not ascend over 3700 m and may breed as low as 600 m; south of the Brahmaputra, they breed between 1000 and 1800 m..
Winters (October to March) from 2400 meters down to the foothills and terai (primarily 1000–1800 meters), east of Nepal, extending for c. 20 kilometers into the plains along the larger streams; also winters in the foothills of Bangladesh and south to the Chittagong region, and along the Burma border. Females and young apparently winter at lower levels than males. Plumbeous water redstart has also been observed at Kawai Waterfall in Kaghan Valley. It affects rushing torrents and streams, chiefly in a wet climatic zone; it does not breed north of the main range. Moreover, its other ranges are east to northern Vietnam, Hainan, and China, and north to Hopeh and Kansu. And found another subspecies in Taiwan.
Other Names: Plumbeous Water Redstart is called Thirthira in Hindi. However, the other local names are Kola tiriu (Kashmir); Surdurn parbo-pho (Lepcha); Chubbia nukki (Bhutanese).
Size: The eye-catching bird is a small sparrow, measuring 12–13 cm (5 inches) in length.
Food: Plumbeous water redstart food mainly consists of insects, occasionally berries, but mayflies tend to be preferred.
Plumbeous water redstart (Phoenicurus fuliginosus) male bird is entirely bluish slaty with chestnut tail and rufous vent.
Plumbeous water redstart (Phoenicurus fuliginosus) male bird is entirely bluish slaty with chestnut tail and rufous vent.
Related Reading – American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)